The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause

Heavy rain closed school today. Flooded roads. I got to work in the brewery; close. Yesterday we drove back from our quick trip east of the mountains. We looked but didn’t find. We’re out of shape and gravity keeps showing up for work.

The Strait is mostly mud. 40 inches of rain in the last 6 weeks. I read a headline today: “How Will Idaho Recover From Drought?” Photos of dead partridges on Instagram adorn the sun-drenched November landscape, tailgate or barbed-wire as reliquary.

Lennie Tristano recorded a tune he called “Requiem” in 1955. The blind pianist improvised the tune in response to learning that Charlie Parker (“Bird”) had just died. Tristano was a major harmonic influence on Parker’s revolutionary music, and I have to think that part of Tristano’s title came from the death of that intellectual relationship, one in which history did its best to evaporate the pianist before his own ears.

As I walked across new (to me) terrain in eastern Washington this tune shadowed me. I don’t even like it much (“Line Up” is another thing altogether). But we don’t get to pick these soundtracks, do we? It took us 9 hours to get to chukar country — my first trip this season. It doesn’t seem like a reasonable or repeatable proposition. So that might be the cause. I don’t know what I was thinking, but it certainly wasn’t this. Life is full of surprises.

Bloom did thrill me with one (the only) dandy point of four Hungarian partridges. Peat iced that cake with one of his classic backings. I missed an easy shot, failing to give Bloom the opportunity to think about a retrieve. Oh well. And that was it.

Good looking country, scarce of birds
At the edge of a big burn from this summer; probably could have picked a better spot
Leslie and her proto-serious partners

6 Replies to “Requiem”

  1. Bob and Leslie,
    My chukar haunts in Kittitas County, WA have been bone dry since early spring. Last year, my two Brittanys would point three to four coveys in a half-day of hunting. This fall, despite being out three times, we have found one covey of eight birds. This weekend I’m trying southern Yakima County–and expect the same results. The hidden springs on the north side of the hills where usually a few shrubs and green grass nourish life are mostly dry. A requiem mass might be in order for climate change wreaking havoc on sacred ground.

    McMullen Creek, the tiny stream in the South Hills south of Twin Falls where in the 1960s I would catch fifty brookies in an evening, is now dry by July. Requiescat in pace.

    I try to empathize with my Upper Mid-West and Northern New England ruffed grouse hunter friends and all their talk about English Setters and hidden “coverts.” I don’t get it. Give me the vast landscapes of the Great Basin. I may not see many chukar in dry years but at least I am home.

    You could try digging for razor clams.

    Rest in peace.
    Mark Smutny

    1. Thanks, Mark. We’re in what Dave Winfield referred to as a “period of adjustment” (not a “slump”), and might or might not adjust to this. Jury’s still out. I underestimated the psychic impact of 20+ years of those vast open landscapes. Maybe we can teach our dogs to point mollusks?

  2. There are birds east of you,I know firsthand from a friend who puts the time in. Nothing good comes easy. I’m not a fan of inet tailgate shots either . Seems to miss most of the point. But the onslaught continues to rousing cheers.

  3. Bob have you read East of the Mountains? If the book is TLDR, they turned it into a movie with Tom Skerritt. I trust your trip wasn’t as bad as his. Good luck, and here’s to a better new year for all of us!

    1. Yeah, I read it a while back and we just watched the movie, which I was pleasantly surprised by its understatedness. And yes, our trip was not as problematic or macabre as his. Still, I’d been worried Tom Skerrit would bookend the deaths of my favorite pastimes: flyfishing (A River Runs Through It, aka A Realtor Runs Over It) and chukar hunting. Fortunately, EOTM didn’t glamorize chukar hunting to the extent ARRTI did flyfishing, which doesn’t mean anything b/c ranchers are taking care of the destruction of the game bird habitat just fine on their own. We’ll make it back there before too long, but I hope there’ll still be a there there.

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